Wilson Kipsang, Kim Smith Join Field for NYC Half

March 06, 2013 at 11:30am EST | by Barbara Huebner, NYRR News Service

Wilson Kipsang, who in 2012 won both an Olympic bronze medal and the Virgin London Marathon, and Kim Smith, who has run the fastest half-marathon ever on U.S. soil, headline the international field of athletes set for the NYC Half on March 17, it was announced today by New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.

“We are privileged to host Wilson Kipsang and Kim Smith here in New York again, and welcome every opportunity for them to run through the streets of the city,” said Wittenberg. “The diversity of this field is similar to the diversity of New York.  Just like the runners who travel across the country for this event share their stories with friends and families back home, these decorated international athletes bring a piece of NYC back to their countries.”

Kipsang and Smith join top U.S. Olympians Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein, Bernard Lagat, and Janet Bawcom, as well as Guor Marial, who competed in London under the Olympic flag but recently became a U.S. citizen, in the professional field for the eighth-annual race.

Of special interest among the other top international athletes in the field are Bob Tahri of France, the 2009 IAAF World Championships bronze medalist in the 3000-meter steeplechase, and Sara Moreira of Portugal, the 2013 European Indoor Champion at 3000 meters. Tahri, a three-time Olympian, will be making his half-marathon debut; Moreira has a half-marathon personal best of 1:10:08 and will be competing in the United States for the first time.

The race will also feature national marathon record-holders Madai Perez of Mexico and Valeria Straneo of Italy; Deressa Chimsa of Ethiopia, the reigning IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships silver medalist; and Daniele Meucci of Italy, the 2012 European Championships 10,000-meter silver medalist and winner of the 2012 UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park.

The top-ranked marathoner in the world for 2012, Kipsang won the Virgin London Marathon in 2:04.44 before returning to London to win the Olympic bronze medal. With a marathon personal best of 2:03:42, set in Frankfurt in 2011, the 30-year-old Kenyan is the second-fastest marathoner of all-time on a standard course.  In 2009, Kipsang finished fourth in the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships, and his personal best at the distance is 58:59.

Kipsang, who is doing some training with Geoffrey Mutai, is planning to defend his London title in April.

“I hope I can run a time below 60 minutes—that’s my goal,” said Kipsang of the NYC Half.

Smith, a three-time Olympian for her native New Zealand who lives and trains in Providence, RI, excels at the half-marathon distance. In 2011, Smith won the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon in 1:07:11, the fastest time ever run in the United States, and she has won nine of the 13 half-marathons she has run in her career and finished as runner-up in three others. In last year’s NYC Half, Smith led much of the way before finishing second in 1:08:43, and she has twice finished fifth in the ING New York City Marathon.

“After coming close to winning last year, I want to come back and get the top spot on the podium,” Smith said.

NYRR’s flagship half-marathon, in its eighth running, will include more than 15,000 runners and air live locally on WABC-TV from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and online at 7online.com. It will also stream live nationally on ESPN3.com. NYRR’s On the Run broadcast will air on www.nyrr.org at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, with a post-race recap Sunday evening.

For the full press release, click here.

For the earlier press release on the U.S. field, click here.

For press release on Bernard Lagat’s half-marathon debut, click here.

Categories: NYC Half, Pro Athletes